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Amid a season full of tumult for the New York Jets, one moment stood out above the rest and particularly got under the skin of head coach Robert Saleh.
According to The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt and Dianna Russini, after it was leaked that quarterback Zach Wilson was hesitant to return to the lineup after being benched, Saleh was so peeved that he threatened to take the cell phones away from members of his coaching staff.
“The coach held a meeting with his staff two days later where he asked the leaker to reveal himself, according to multiple people in attendance. ‘If you come forward now, you won’t get in trouble,’ he told them while threatening to take their cell phones,” Rosenblatt and Russini reported.
The insistence by Saleh to figure out who was the source of the leak didn’t sit well with his staff, as it was noted that some members of the staff were “bemused” by his “obsession” over the Wilson story and his reaction to it.
Rosenblatt and Russini reported along with Jeff Howe on Dec. 4 that Wilson was “reluctant” to take back the starting role after he was benched in Week 11 in favor of Tim Boyle, who struggled as the starter over the next two weeks before being released by New York.
Saleh wasn’t the only person in the Jets organization concerned with the leaks. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who sat out virtually the entire year after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 1, bemoaned the issue during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.
“That’s a problem with the organization,” Rodgers said. “We need to get to the bottom of whatever this is coming from and put a stop to it privately, because there’s no place in a winning culture … and this isn’t the only time. There’s been a bunch of other leaks.”
Wilson did end up starting the team’s Week 14 matchup against the Houston Texans and led the Jets to a 30-6 win in what will likely be his final positive moment with the franchise that drafted him No. 2 overall in 2021. He suffered a concussion the following week and didn’t play again for the remainder of the year, and there’s an expectation that he will be traded or released this offseason.
The failure of Wilson and the lack of accountability are further indictments of Saleh’s tenure. He has a record of just 18-33 in three seasons, suffering double-digit losses in each year.
It’s clear that the 2024 season is a prove-it year for Saleh and the rest of his regime, as another tumultuous season will spell the end of his time with the Jets.